Our Geoscience and Energy Office in Washington, D.C. (GEO-DC), is being formed in direct response to the 2003 All-Member Survey (November President's Column) conducted by Anderson Marketing Service.
Recapping that column, the survey gave Government Affairs (GA) a rank of No. 5 out of 17 choices by members. On repeated inquiries members supported more informing of government (U.S. and non-U.S.) with good encouragement in non-technical issues and even stronger positives for technical issues.
After my column went to press, DPA conducted an electronic survey. Responses by 462 members were:
- 74.9 percent in favor of AAPG being more involved in GA.
- 74.5 percent in favor of DPA's GA Committee becoming more proactive.
- 52.6 percent in favor of AAPG considering opening a GA (GEO-DC) office in Washington, D.C. (32.7 percent opposed, 14.7 percent don't know/ no opinion).
- Regarding DPA participating with AAPG in opening such office, 47 percent were in favor, 30.7 percent were opposed and 27.3 percent marked "don't know/no opinion."
- DPA monetary support response was 68.4 percent in favor, but at widely ranging levels ($1,000 to $100,000 per year).
- Strong support indicated for GA (GEO-DC) office focused on education and on petroleum geoscience (71.5 percent combined for "value" levels – 4 and 5, with 5 being the highest), while support for non-technical focus was 64.3 percent, and ranged widely from value level 1 to value level 5.
Topics for the GA (GEO-DC) office focus included a wide-range, with greatest support for national energy policy and onshore land access. For more information on this please view the DPA part of AAPG Web site, at dpa.aapg.org/gac.
Article II of the Association's Constitution includes under "Purposes," "to advance the professional well-being of its members." We recognize that interfacing with governments substantially affects members' livelihoods.
Based on survey results your leadership has an obligation to respond. Accordingly, we have developed a detailed business plan with major staff assistance, and have placed ads for employing a GEO-DC director.
Arrangements are progressing for leasing office space from AGI, and we expect close cooperation with their GA coordinator. (AGI is restricted in advocacy because of the different interests of their constituent societies. However, AGI gathers much information in Washington that impacts the 43 member societies.)
From our business plan the Association objectives include:
- Increase the awareness and perception of Congress on the energy needs of the global community.
- Support a viable U.S. National Energy Supply Policy.
- Actively promote AAPG/DPA policy positions to Congress and federal agencies.
- Educate congressional staffers about the scientific aspects of petroleum geoscience especially in relation to resource assessment.
- Solicit grants for petroleum and coal research from government agencies such as the U.S. Department of Energy, Department of Defense, Department of the Interior and the National Science Foundation.
- Encourage Congress to increase funding of petroleum research through government agencies such as DOE.
- Inform Congress regarding legislation on petroleum and energy minerals related tax matters.
- Educate government agencies on the effects of regulation of petroleum and energy minerals.
- Establish and build a science-based coalition of energy professionals.
- Establish and develop a grass roots effort to develop private funding of an organization to compete with NGOs (non-governmental organizations) that are against resource development.
- Develop a Washington identity for AAPG through regular contact with congressional staffers and the Washington bureau establishment.
The office's annual budget is $150,000 to $200,000 per year, depending on staffing, which is in the middle of the range of nine other 501 (c)(3) and (c)(6) organizations' Washington offices. At $200,000 the office would constitute a little less than 2 percent of our total budget – or about the same as the Distinguished Lecture program.
It is time for AAPG to have a Geosciences and Energy office in Washington, D.C. While it is a relatively modest economic outlay, we expect substantial dividends in expanding the Association's role in geoscience policy. And, we hope to recover funds advanced by qualifying for grants from agencies and non-governmental organizations.
A group of "Founding Folks" has pledged non-deductible (for income tax purposes) monetary support for GEO-DC, and the dues statement carries an optional contribution election.
If you would like to join the "Founding Folks" (pending a better name!) please call me at (214) 744-3869 and add your name and support to an important initiative.